Our take on attracting and retaining digital talent

Being an agency.

Finding and keeping good digital talent is hard, but it shouldn’t be.

The brightest and best digital talent are looking for more than a big paycheck – here’s what we focus on to recruit and retain the best folks in the market.

The digital market is super-competitive for top-class talent, and that makes recruitment and retention a tough job and uniquely highlights the shortage of good candidates – sadly there are too many “over-polished” CVs coming from second rate staff, and not enough real talent. As a result, lots of small to medium-sized companies end up with the left-overs and consequently struggle to compete.

We’re a small company with big ambitions and over the last 20 years we’ve strived to hire the best. It’s been a tough road and we’ve made some terrible mistakes but that “blood on our T-shirt” has taught us valuable lessons about what to do and not to do. Mostly, we’ve gone against the grain in our industry and this has given us a critical advantage in the hiring game.

We’re exponents of the “small giants” way of thinking. This is pretty unusual in a space dominated by busy fools who risk creating unwieldy and unfocused organisations. Our focus on the long-term allows us the luxury of driving our own future and not being driven by (false) growth metrics.

Here is how we go about getting the best and keeping them.

  1. Buy into people, not CVs. We have a baseline skills level (broadly 10 years minimum in digital marketing and 5 years using WordPress) but outside of that we look at behaviour, attitude, culture, interests, authenticity and approach.
  2. Culture fit. Not every person suits every working environment or organisation, so we look for folks that share our values, operating mode and beliefs.
  3. Environment. We’re massive believers in collaboration, sharing, helping, value, empowerment, trust, initiative and independence – so we provide the right folks the environment and tools to thrive.
  4. Pay top dollar. As a creative organisation, our talent is most of our value, so we really don’t want to skimp on hiring cheap folks or trainees. Offering market-leading money says a lot about how we value our people and what we expect from them.
  5. Work anywhere, anytime. We’ve always promoted remote working, but since 2012 we totally abandoned the 9-5 and daily commute. We care less about when and where you work than the quality of the work produced.
  6. Social/Work balance. We encourage social interaction within the working environment and foster strong social ties between people to create a close-knit team that works together.
  7. Less is more. We believe that no-one should work more than 25 hours per week. It’s so ingrained in our culture that most folks think we work part-time – we don’t, we deliver more value in 25hrs than most regular staffers can do in a regular 40hr week. It also leaves us a lot of spare capacity and free time.
  8. Cost no object. We invest early and heavily in technology that makes our life better, simpler and more productive. If someone needs or finds something to make their life easier then we’ll invest in it without quibbling.

This gives us a superb tight team who work well together in a rewarding and unstressed environment with no hierarchy, no politics or bullshit. And our clients seem to love the results, which says it all really.